Local company uses laser device to monitor vog

By: Ian Scheuring

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Civil engineers at Oceanit, a local science and engineering firm, are using a device initially designed to test for dust levels on constructions sites to monitor air quality in Hawaii.

The machine is especially useful on days like Wednesday, when vog levels are particularly high.

Air samples from the outside get sucked into a tube, where lasers inside the device reflect off particles within the sample, showing how many pollutants are present in the air. The machine measures pollutant concentration in micrograms per cubic meter of air.

Jeremy Michelson, a civil engineer at Oceanit and the project's manager, says he hopes a few changes to the way air quality results are displayed will help make the device easier for the general public to understand.

"We're trying to look at our data and are going to try and add a feature to our website that shows if vog levels are low, medium, or high so people won't have to only look at numbers," Michelson said. "It'll be a little more self explanatory."

Once those changes have been made, individuals with such respiratory illnesses as asthma will only need to travel to a computer screen to find out if conditions outside are safe or not.

The system was initially designed to be used on construction sites to ensure compliance with air quality regulations. The monitors are placed between sites and potential areas of concern, like residential or business areas, and are monitored 24 hours a day using on-site laptops and radio modems for remote access.

"It's a good device, and it's a little bit more high tech than the other devices they used to use for air quality monitoring," Michelson said.

The data from Oceanit's vog monitoring station in downtown Honolulu can be found by clicking on the "Vog Alert" banner at http://www.oceanit.com.

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